On November 16th, 2023, AABANY hosted a Pre-Holiday Multi-Bar Association Gathering at Broadridge Financial Solutions, located at 605 3rd Avenue. This event served not only as an opportunity for members of different bar associations to come together but also represented AABANY’s continuing commitment to this year’s theme, “Embracing Wellness and Well-Being – Strengthening the Legal Profession by Investing in Ourselves.” The event was co-sponsored by the Armenian Bar Association, the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey, FALA New York, the Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York,the Jewish Lawyer’s Guild, the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York, the LGBT Bar of New York, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association,the New York City Bar Association, the New York County Lawyers Association, the New York State Bar Association, the South Asian Bar Association of New York, and the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean Bar Association of Queens.
Recognizing that the holiday season can be challenging for many attorneys, AABANY aimed to spread the pre-holiday cheer and create a supportive network within the legal community. The event kicked off with a Potluck Dinner, to foster a sense of community and camaraderie among attendees. Each co-sponsoring bar association brought something special to the table, contributing to the potluck, bringing to the table culinary offerings as diverse as the New York legal community. From savory dishes to sweet delights, the spread featured an array of flavors that tantalized the taste buds and sparked conversations around the communal tables. Breaking bread together, attorneys from different backgrounds shared stories and experiences, creating connections that extend beyond the legal realm.
After the Potluck Dinner, attendees settled in for a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program, delving into crucial aspects of attorney well-being. Steering the discussion was Joseph Eng, Counsel at King & Spalding LLP and AABANY’s President-Elect. In a heartfelt address, Joseph openly shared his personal struggles with burnout and the ongoing pursuit of a healthy work-life balance. He took the opportunity to introduce the Lawyers Assistance Program by the NYC Bar, emphasizing its profound impact on the legal community. Building on Joseph’s poignant remarks, Eileen Travis, the Executive Director of the program, provided in-depth insights into the comprehensive services offered by the Lawyers Assistance Program. Following her, Sara Ellis, the Interim President of the Lawyers Depression Project, offered her perspective on the mental health and wellness challenges attorneys face. The narrative continued with Gayle Damiano, a motivational speaker, sharing compelling insights into the nuances of drug abuse and the transformative power of embracing change. The program culminated with a thought-provoking Q&A panel, allowing attendees to engage directly with the speakers. This interactive session provided a platform for meaningful dialogue, fostering a deeper understanding of the well-being resources available to legal professionals.
AABANY’s Pre-Holiday Multi-Bar Association Gathering was ultimately more than just an event—it was a testament to the legal community’s commitment to well-being and mutual support. By combining the joy of the holiday season with a focus on mental health resources, AABANY demonstrated the importance of fostering a strong, interconnected legal profession.
If you have ideas for programs or speakers on the topic of wellness and well-being, please contact President Karen Kim at [email protected].
Six members represented AABANY — Yang Chen, Chris Kwok, Alysha Naik, Kevin Hsi, Beatrice Leong and Amos Kim — and each person was knowledgeable about different topics that came in handy for Team AABANY.
It was a close call for third place, which needed a tiebreaker. The question was “When was the anime character Astro Boy first published?” Chris Kwok got the right answer for Team AABANY and put us solidly in third place, behind the Columbian Lawyers Association (CLA) which finished in second place. (By the way, if you know the answer to the tiebreaker, let us know, and we might tap you for a future trivia team.)
We came in 2nd place amongst all the bar associations and nearly 40 total participants! The prize was pride and a round of shots.
Thanks to CAN for organizing this event and bringing all the bar associations together!
On November 17, AABANY together with several other bar associations co-sponsored a program on “Becoming an AUSA,” hosted by Cleary Gottlieb at their New York office.
Joon Kim, former Acting United States Attorney of the Southern District of New York (SDNY) (and longtime AABANY member) gave opening remarks to welcome the standing room only crowd of more than 100 attendees. He reflected on his years serving with Preet Bharara and then succeeding him after his much-publicized termination during the prior Presidential administration. To this day, Joon remembers the gravity and weight of the words, “My name is Joon Kim, and I represent the United States” whenever he appeared before a judge or jury. The seriousness of representing the United States in numerous cases of public importance has never been lost on Joon. Now a Partner at Cleary, Joon was the first Asian American Acting United States Attorney in the Southern District, following Preet Bharara, who was the first Asian American United States Attorney in the Southern District.
Una Dean, former Assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) and now in-house counsel at IBM, helped organize the program and moderated the opening panel with current United States Attorneys Damian Williams (SDNY) and Breon Peace (EDNY). Una was also a past AABANY Board member.
Both Breon and Damian spoke about their paths to the US Attorney’s office and their desire to work on matters that would have positive community impact. Both expressed the belief that the US Attorney’s office provides a unique opportunity to do just that. Breon talked about criminal investigations and prosecutions his office has been doing, including a case that helped prevent a potential terrorist attack at the US Open. His office prosecuted R. Kelly for human trafficking. They fight hate crimes and also work on affinity fraud cases which target vulnerable members from diverse ethnic and religious communities in New York. In criminal cases, his office actively seeks out alternatives to incarceration and diversion programs as ways to resolve criminal complaints, and also supports programs that facilitate re-entry into society for formerly incarcerated persons. On the civil side, EDNY pursues civil rights cases, fights housing discrimination and brings cases to protect the environment. His civil rights division has also been addressing claims about NYPD’s handling of sexual assault complaints from survivors.
Damian, after being trained at a prominent law firm, believed that, for his further development as a litigator and trial lawyer, the US Attorney’s office was the next logical step. Damian has served in the SDNY for a decade and spoke about his time at the SDNY with great passion and fondness, and his love for the work is palpable. “It is the best job in the world, and the best job I can ever hope to have,” he declared. Assistant US Attorneys fight bullies, he noted, and he relishes working in an environment where everyone is dedicated to doing the right thing, serving the public interest.
Una asked both Damian and Breon what qualities they look for in candidates for their offices. Damian answered that they are looking for good, decent, human beings – “no sharp elbows” – who are team oriented. In other words, they don’t want any jerks. (He used a stronger word, but you know what he means.) Candidates should be good writers who are smart, can think on their feet and exercise good judgment. They must have a strong moral compass, a sense of right and wrong, because so much authority is delegated to junior attorneys at his office, and they must be “doing the right thing, the right way – always.” Candidates need to have a tremendous amount of energy, because they will be working hard. If you are looking for a lifestyle change or money, Damian advised, working at the US Attorney’s Office may not be right for you.
Breon agreed with Damian and added that for him, any candidate that has a win-at-all-costs mentality raises a major red flag. He believes in doing justice, and that means at times, his office may have to decline cases or admit error. A candidate that rushes to judgment would not work out. He also looks for attorneys with the courage to tell investigators or judges that the evidence is not there to bring a case or to prosecute a defendant.
Una then talked about the reason why she put this program together, noting that during her time at EDNY, the composition of the office did not reflect the makeup of the community they served. Breon responded that “it is incredibly important that the [EDNY] is a reflection of the community.” He wants people of diverse backgrounds and experiences in his office to help solve problems, because “diversity is critical to getting the work done.” To promote diversity, EDNY has made changes to make hiring more diverse and inclusive, such as by making the process more transparent, has implemented a mentoring program for all new AUSAs and has sponsored trainings through the Diversity Committee.
Damian pointed out that he is the first African American US Attorney at SDNY and acknowledged that diversity is a challenge that needs to be addressed. He believes that outcomes are better when there are diverse views on the team. He also offered that the jury box will look like New York, so the government table should try to look like New York as well. Damian emphasized that politics has no role to play in the US Attorney’s office, no matter who the sitting President happens to be. He shared that Justice Sotomayor, at the start of her career was an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, and in a recent speech, she stated that she became a prosecutor because “it gave her the broadest option to do justice.” Damian agrees with that view.
Breon and Damian both closed by extolling the virtues of public service, particularly at the US Attorney’s office. Damian finds it hard to leave his desk each night because of all the great cases he gets to work on. “When I go home at night,” Breon declared, “I feel like I’ve done something good for the community.”
After Damian and Breon spoke, the program shifted to a panel of attorneys of color from both SDNY and EDNY, in both criminal and civil divisions, moderated by former AUSA Maria Cruz Melendez, now a Partner at Skadden. The panel included:
·Sagar Ravi, Assistant U.S. Attorney & Co-Chief, Complex Frauds & Cybercrime Unit, SDNY
·Rebecca Tinio, Assistant U.S. Attorney & Co-Chief, Civil Frauds Unit, SDNY
·Hiral Mehta, Assistant U.S. Attorney & Deputy Chief, Business and Securities Fraud Section, EDNY
·Marietou Diouf, Assistant U.S. Attorney, International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section, EDNY
·Camille Fletcher, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Narcotics Unit, SDNY
·Dara Olds, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Civil Division, EDNY
·Ivory Bishop, Assistant U.S. Attorney, General Crimes, EDNY
All the panelists echoed the passion of Damian and Breon in their love of their work and the weight accorded to representing the United States in court on important cases of great public interest, in both criminal and civil matters.
Hiral Mehta (EDNY) spoke about the proactive nature of the office and the flat structure. There is no hierarchy, and everyone’s input is sought. Ivory Bishop (SDNY) talked about getting to work on all types of cases, from street crimes to public corruption.
Rebecca Tinio (SDNY) mentioned that her cases were great for training, because they go to trial. Her unit works on high stakes cases, such as the tax and bankruptcy case involving Purdue Pharma, the anti-kickback cases involving Novartis, and groundbreaking cases involving the Clean Air Act.
Maria asked the panel what role diversity plays in the cases that the offices see. The panelists gave examples from cases they worked on, in which their own diverse backgrounds and experiences allowed them to connect with and relate to the witnesses in the case, ultimately leading to successful outcomes.
Maria asked the panel to address the hiring process. Dara Olds (EDNY) stated that her office has separate criminal and civil tracks. Rebecca (SDNY) explained that her office has one unified process for all applicants. Both offices have initial interviews, some conducted by those on the panel. Both offices request writing samples, which are reviewed to determine whether a candidate will advance. If the candidate gets through the first round, they are interviewed by more senior AUSAs, including section chiefs. The final round would involve the US Attorney and their executive staff.
Sagar Ravi (SDNY) stated that they are always accepting applications, and Hiral (EDNY) confirmed the same for his office, except during times when a hiring freeze is in place. Currently, there is none so right now “the doors are open.”
What if an applicant thinks that they do not have the right credentials to apply? Dara (EDNY) noted that the US Attorney’s office does not accept applicants straight from law school and encouraged everyone who has obtained several years of experience to apply, regardless of whether they are applying from a large firm or if they had clerked for a judge. Camille Fletcher (SDNY) advised that even if you don’t get called for an interview the first time, you should try again.
After the panels were done, all the attendees stayed for a reception with food and drinks generously provided by Cleary. Many of the panelists stayed to speak directly with the panelists and ask the questions they were not able to during the main program. The room was buzzing with lively conversations among prosecutors, attorneys, and law students in attendance.
Much thanks and appreciation go to all the speakers and moderators for the evening. Thanks to Una Dean for spearheading the event, to Cleary for being such a gracious host, and to all the co-sponsors:
·Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association
·Caribbean Attorneys Network
·Dominican Bar Association
·Hispanic National Bar Association – Region II
·Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York
On November 30, 2021, the New York State Bar Association presented the Bar Leaders Innovation Award in the Large Bar Association category to AABANY for its report A Rising Tide of Hate and Violence Against Asian Americans in New York During COVID-19. The award is presented to “recognize Bar Associations for adapting to the needs of their members and the community at large by introducing innovative programs, ideas, and methodologies that benefit everyone involved.”
The Dominican Bar Association (DBA) received an award in the Small Bar Association category in recognition of donating and delivering $10,000 worth of essential foods to at-risk families in the South Bronx. The award was accepted on behalf of DBA by the President, Doralyn De Dios.
A joint award was presented to the Muslim Bar Association of New York (MuBANY), in the Small Bar Association category, and Metropolitan Black Bar Association (MBBA), in the Medium Bar Association category, in recognition of program collaboration for members and communities most affected by COVID-19. MuBANY and MMBA started an Affinity Bar Collective which brought together a coalition of about twenty affinity bars (including AABANY) to collaborate on assisting members and communities most affected by COVID-19. President of MuBANY, Sania Khan, accepted the award on behalf of MuBANY and President of MMBA, Anta Cisse-Green, accepted the award on behalf of MBBA.
In the Medium Bar Association category, the Immediate Past President, Paula Engel, accepted the award presented to the Onondaga County Bar Association for the Bond, Schoeneck & King Series on Race and Justice in Central New York. The series was created to provide legal and non-legal programming aimed at opening a respectful, constructive and healthy dialogue about systemic racism and unequal access to justice in the community.
Terry discussed AABANY’s journey on writing the report. In 2020, AABANY embarked on this report in response to the increase in anti-Asian racism and violence. AABANY began to take measures to combat these issues which included a call for local and national leaders to denounce hate crimes and putting on programs to teach attorneys about hate crime. AABANY started the report in mid-2020 and published the report in February 2021. The proposals for change included more education on the history of anti-Asian violence, discrimination, hatred and xenophobia; increased diversity and inclusion in law enforcement and government; and improved collection and classification of data on hate crimes. To advance the implementation of the Report’s proposals, AABANY has formed an Anti-Asian Violence Task Force, which remains active and involves participation by numerous AABANY Committees. Although anti-Asian violence accounts have faded from the media, the Task Force is continuing the fight to turn the tide of hate and violence against the AAPI community.
Terry thanked MuBANY and MBBA for reviewing early drafts of the report. He also gave thanks to Paul, Weiss for co-authoring the report. Yang urged attendees to donate to the Turning the Tide (T3) Project, a joint initiative with AALFNY.
The New York County Lawyers Association also received an award in the Large Bar Association category in recognition of the COVID-19 Resource Center for lawyers. In March 2020, NYCLA announced the launch of their COVID-19 Resource Center which provided new content on a daily basis, expanded CLE Tuition Assistance Program, and offered low cost and no-cost online CLEs. The award was accepted by NYCLA President, Vincent Chang, a former AABANY President (2007).
AABANY previously received the Bar Leaders Innovation Award three times. In 2019, AABANY was recognized for its Pro Bono Legal Advice and Referral Clinic program, a collaboration with AALFNY. In 2016, AABANY received the award for its Seventh Annual Fall Conference: Speak Up / Rise Up / Lift Up. In 2013, AABANY was recognized for its trial reenactment, IVA: The Myth of Tokyo Rose, Allegiance on Trial.
AABANY congratulates all recipients of the award and thanks the New York State Bar Association for this honor and recognition.
The Metropolitan Black Bar Association Law and Religion Committee presents “A Trial of Biblical Proportions: The People vs. Moses”
Date: Sunday, November 15, 2015 Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm Location: Temple Emanu-El, One East 65th Street, New York
Join the Metropolitan Black Bar Association Law and Religion Committee for a unique event that brings together biblical scholarship and courtroom drama as we explore Moses’ guilt or innocence on the charge of murder.
We all know the story of Moses leading the Israelites from slavery to freedom, but long before becoming God’s messenger, Moses killed an Egyptian taskmaster who was beating a Hebrew slave. The trial begins with a text study. You will then enter the “courtroom” where Dan Abrams and Alan Dershowitz will serve, respectively, as prosecutor and defense attorney. The trial will be presided over by The Honorable Judge Alison J. Nathan.
This program is sponsored and organized by the Temple Emanu-El Skirball Center with a special 50% discount for Metropolitan Black Bar Association members.
METROPOLITAN BLACK BAR ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK CITY (“MBBA”) ANNOUNCES ITS 2014 ANNIVERSARY AWARDS GALA HONOREES
MBBA President, R. Nadine Fontaine, announces that the MBBA will hold its Thirtieth Anniversary Awards Gala on Friday, May 16, 2014 at Pier Sixty in New York, NY. The theme of the Gala is “The Power of Us: Celebrating 30 Years of Leadership, Innovation and Community.” Michele Coleman Mayes, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of the New York Public Library and Theodore V. Wells, Jr., Partner and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP will serve as Honorary Co-Chairs of the MBBA Gala.
In addition to the President, the MBBA Gala Committee members include Christine Appah, Richard D. Boyd, Jason M. Clark, Paula T. Edgar, Luwick Francois, Hon. Cheryl J. Gonzales, Co-Chair of the Gala Committee, Y. Gail Goode, Taa Grays, Andrew Hannibal, Deborah L. Martin, Moya O’Conner, Francesca J. Perkins, Yamicha Stephenson, Allison B. Tomlinson and Hon. Alvin M. Yearwood, Co-Chair of the Gala Committee.
The 2014 MBBA Annual Gala Honorees are as follows:
Trailblazer of the Year:
Raymond J. McGuire, Global Head of Corporate and Investment
Banking Citigroup, Inc.
Corporate Counsel of the Year:
Duane L. Hughes, Managing Director
Private Practitioner of the Year:
Carmen J. Lawrence, Partner
King & Spalding, LLP
Jurist of the Year:
Hon. Sheila Abdus -Salaam, Associate Judge
New York State Court of Appeals
Public Servant of the Year:
Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO & Executive Director
Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies
Co-Chair, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Transition Team
Member of the Year:
Shirley Stewart Farmer, First President (Posthumously)
Metropolitan Black Bar Association
For more information on this event, or to schedule an interview with MBBA President R. Nadine Fontaine, please contact Francesca J. Perkins at [email protected]. For sponsorship inquiries, please contact Paula T. Edgar at [email protected].
On behalf of President R. Nadine Fontaine, the Officers and the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, we are pleased to announce that we are holding our Thirtieth Anniversary Awards Gala on Friday, May 16, 2014 at Pier Sixty, New York, NY.
The 2014 MBBA Anniversary Awards Gala Honorees are as follows:
Trailblazer of the Year: Raymond J. McGuire Global Head of Corporate and Investment Banking Citigroup, Inc.
Corporate Counsel of the Year: Duane L. Hughes Managing Director Morgan Stanley Private Practitioner of the Year: Carmen J. Lawrence Partner Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Jurist of the Year: Honorable Sheila Abdus Salaam Associate Judge New York State Court of Appeals
Public Servant of the Year: Jennifer Jones Austin CEO & Executive Director, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies Co-Chair, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Transition Team
Member of the Year: Shirley Stewart Farmer First MBBA President
The MBBA is working with Donaldson and Chilliest to collect books and toys for children in need this holiday season. We have confirmed the drop off locations: Civil Court Kings County, 141 Livingston Street, 7th and 10th Floors, Brooklyn, NY; Supreme Court Kings County, 360 Adams Street, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY; Supreme Court New York County, 60 Centre Street, 5th Floor Security, New York, NY, or 80 Centre Street, Room 101, New York, NY, or 71 Thomas Street, Room 200, New York, NY. Please stop by one of these locations and make your donation today!!! The deadline to drop off all books and toys is Monday, December 23, 2013.
President R. Nadine Fontaine of the Metropolitan Black Bar is pleased to announce that Governor Andrew Cuomo has nominated the Honorable Sheila Abdus-Salaam to the New York State Court of Appeals. If confirmed, Justice Abdus-Salaam will be the first African-American woman to sit on the highest court of this State. Her confirmation will fill the vacancy created by the untimely passing of Associate Justice Theodore T. Jones, Jr.
The Joint Diverse Bar Association Judicial Screening Panel (the “Panel”) has interviewed and rated judicial candidates nominated by the New York State Commission on Judicial Nominations to fill the vacancy on the New York State Court of Appeals, which was created by the untimely passing of Associate Judge Theodore T. Jones, Jr. The Panel was comprised of members of various affinity bar associations including the Asian American Bar Association of New York, the Association of Black Women Attorneys, the Black Bar Association of Bronx County, the Dominican Bar Association, the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York, the Macon B. Allen Bar Association (of Queens County), the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, and the South Asian Bar Association of New York.